Fusiform rust is a widespread and damaging disease of loblolly pine (P. taeda) and slash pine (P. elliottii) in the South. Research has identified families of these pines with improved genetic resistance to the disease, allowing production and planting of resistant seedlings in areas at risk. An Economic Evaluation of Fusiform Rust Protection Research compared the cost of fusiform rust research to the simulated benefits of rust resistant seedlings in plantations that have been or are projected to be established Southwide between I970 and 2020. Results showed likely benefit-cost ratios of about 4:1 to 6:1 for fusiform rust research. Currently, anticipated improvements in resistance will not eliminate all physical and financial damages from the disease; simulation results indicate substantial financial benefits yet remain for additional research and development.
Researchers at the Southern Institute of Applied Genetics at the Southern Research Station continue to work to improve the diversity of resistance sources in southern pines.